For thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor, it is time to thresh her…
The Bible continually makes use of the similitude of the harvest and its labours, but it is only by its qualifying words that we can know what kind of harvest is meant. Here we have the frequent metaphor, but it tells of no joy, of sorrow only. Similar language has been used of Israel as is here used of Babylon (cf. Isaiah 21:10; Isaiah 41:15). Israel's sins had been the seed of that harvest, and it was a terrible one. All the sorrows of the invasion and destruction of their beloved land and city, their holy city, Jerusalem, and all those which were associated with and sprang out of their bitter exile in Babylon, were but parts of that harvest and strokes of "the bruising flails of God's corrections." But here it is Babylon that is spoken of (cf. Isaiah 21. for a yet earlier prediction of Babylon's fall). She had sown the seed; the cup of her iniquity was full ere the harvests and threshings told of here came upon her. "Dissolute and luxurious in their habits, the Babylonians hid under their soft luxurious exterior a fierceness, an insatiable lust for blood, such as marked many Eastern tribes - such, for instance, as we ourselves have found in 'the mild Hindoo.' The Hebrew prophets describe them as 'a bitter and hasty,' a 'terrible and dreadful' people, 'fiercer than the evening wolves,' a people who 'made the earth tremble and did shake kingdoms.'" They conquered well nigh all the kingdoms of the then known world; they pillaged every country they conquered, and often went far to depopulate the countries they pillaged. In Judaea, for instance, the land became a mere haunt of wild beasts after the Babylonians had subdued it, and from Jerusalem they pillaged even the sacred vessels of the temple. Hence to Isaiah they appeared as "the spoiler spoiling, and the destroyer destroying." And besides all this, there seems to have been an inherent and ineradicable wickedness in the nation itself, or it could hardly have been selected, as it is, as the type of all that is abominable and hateful in the sight of God. For many a generation and century she had been spared. From the beginning to the end of the Bible we read of her. In her decayed greatness there was a little Christian Church there, of which St. Peter tells (1 Peter 5:19). But up to the time of the Exile, and during far the grater portion of it, Babylon seemed only to advance in splendour, in wealth, and power. But at length the time of her harvest - an awful time, indeed - came, and in the sorrows connected with her capture and overthrow, and in the hard and hated rule of her Persian lords, there was the "threshing" of which both Isaiah and Jeremiah tell The contemplation of it filled the Prophet Isaiah with an unspeakable horror: "My loins are filled with pain: pangs have taken hold on me" (Isaiah 21:3, 4). Jew as he was, he could not behold the dread vision of what was to come on Babylon without deep anguish. She "must have filled in his thoughts much the place which Rome held in the mind of a cultivated Spaniard or Carthnginian of the early Christian centuries. To him the Medes and Persians, plunging down from their unknown, mysterious mountain fastnesses upon the wealthy Babylonian plain, must have seemed much as the Goths and Vandals morned to the more civilized races of Europe, when they came pouring down the Alps, to carry sword and fire through the storied plains of Italy. The whole Christian world shuddered when Rome fell; and as her fall to the modern so was the fall of Babylon to the ancient world." Harvest and threshing: these images of the barn commonly suggest that which is peaceful and joyous; but here they tell of the reverse of that - of horror and woe unspeakable. Learn, therefore -
I. SINS ARE SEEDS WHICH MAY HAVE A LATE, BUT SHALL SURELY HAVE A LARGE AND TERRIBLE HARVEST.
II. RELUCTANT AS GOD MAY BE TO AFFLICT THE CHILDREN OF MEN, HE WILL NOT SPARE A SINGLE STROKE SO LONG AS THEY CLING TO THE EVILS WHICH DEGRADE AND DESTROY THEM.
III. THE JUDGMENTS AND PUNISHMENTS OF GOD ARE NOT VINDICTIVE AND FINAL, BUT THE "THRESHINGS OF THE CORN OF HIS FLOOR" (Isaiah 21:10). The separation, that is, of the evil from the good, the worthless from that which is precious and shall be preserved forevermore. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come.
WEB: For thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel: The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time when it is trodden; yet a little while, and the time of harvest shall come for her.